For nearly two decades, Dr. Jenelle Kim has shared how to incorporate the power of Eastern philosophy into Western lifestyles, enabling her clients to live more balanced, purposeful, and harmonious lives. Dr. Kim passionately believes that by creating an awareness of the connectedness between the mind, body, spirit, and greater universe, then you will truly understand yourself, and therefore, you will understand yourself, and therefore, you will understand your place in the universe, and what you are called to do in your life – your destiny.
Dr. Kim is devoted to integrating the philosophy, medical wisdom and expertise of East Asia with the advancements of modern life and medicine of the West in order to touch and positively affect the lives of others. Dr. Kim received her Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine and is National Board Certified in Herbology, Oriental Medicine, and Acupuncture. She furthered her studies abroad, training with some of the most respected doctors and herbologists of East Asia. Her extensive knowledge of herbal medicine allows for a unique perspective on the understanding of Hemp CBD and its effect on well-being.
With almost 20 years in the beauty and personal care industry, Dr. Kim has formulated some of the first all-natural luxury products carried in high-end spas across the world including: Ritz Carlton, Four Season & Mandarin Oriential and in the natural marketplace in stores such as Whole Foods Market & Sprouts. Formulating with CBD since 2012, Jenelle is known for being a pioneer in the industry and creating the first luxury CBD skin care line in the world – Cannabis Beauty Defined.
Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
The truth is that the first time my phone rang (back in 2012 when CBD was still unknown to the general public) and I was asked to create formulations using CBD, I hung up the phone. This is due to the fact that I was not certain of the intention that this potential client had for incorporating Cannabis into their products. I was very aware of the healing benefits of Cannabis seeing that they have been part of Chinese medicine for 4000 years, and the properties that were known 4000 years ago are the same as they are known today. I was simply not interested in working with individuals who potentially wanted to utilize this powerful herbal ingredient for reasons that were outside of the powerful benefits that it contained. I quickly realized that I was incorrect and that this company, who is one of the pioneers of the industry, had very good intentions of utilizing the beneficial properties of the herb as they were intended through history. At this point I committed to the fact that I would do everything possible to educate the world on the proper usage of this herbal ingredient; in the same way that I had dedicated myself to the quest of spreading the understanding of Traditional Oriental Medicine and how it can be integrated into our lives to help achieve our most optimal condition – mind & body.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the most interesting things I have noticed since I began leading my company is how quickly everything can change. It is vital to constantly “go with the flow” or as I say, “move with the Tao.” I have watched the direction of our company change so many times because in order to be successful I believe that you have to constantly move with the twists and turns of opportunity. My mentor always taught me, there are only so many times in life when the door of opportunity shows up – sometimes its 3 times in life, and sometimes it is only once. So, when you know it is there it is so important to seize the opportunity, to be open-minded, to think at least 5 steps ahead. By continuing to follow these principles I have experienced time and time again that in one year everything can change.
One particular moment in time when I definitely saw that expanding our minds and ideas to embrace something totally different than what was planned was in 2012, when my lab entered the CBD industry. I initially turned down the offer to develop formulas for what are now the pioneers of the industry, but when I saw that they had clear intentions of helping others with this powerful herbal ingredient, which has been known in Traditional Oriental Medicine for over 4000 years, I committed to doing my part in helping the world understand CBD correctly.
Ultimately, myself and my lab have been at the forefront of natural products and herbal medicine in mainstream markets including high-end spas (Four Season, Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Orientals), natural product marketplaces (Whole Foods, Sprouts), Clinics, and large drugstore chains (Walgreens, CVS, Kroger). This is not an easy task but my passion always prevails.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first began developing and formulating herbal products I was in charge of formulating and developing the products, as well as marketing and promoting. I remember our office (of 5 people) receiving an order of 6 products and frantically running back and forth from the lab to the sales office, manufacturing and bottling one more bottle of cleanser only to run back to the sales office (about 45 feet) to send out the order. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did know that I had incredible formulas that I had to get out to the world and nothing would stop me in doing so. So, we figured it out. Fast forward almost 20 years and it is not uncommon for us to manufacture and ship orders greater than 100,000 units at a time.
I learned the obvious since the beginning – perfecting and scaling up the formulas for large clients around the world. However, the most important thing that this memory constantly graces me with, is the grounding action of perspective. I am always grateful for any opportunity that arises because I never forget how everything began, and when things become overwhelming or we have to troubleshoot I take a moment to remember moments such as the one above.
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
It is not necessarily the reaction of one individual, but I remember when we first started creating formulas with CBD in 2012, very few were aware of what CBD was. This means that the stigma surrounding CBD and Cannabis was strong, and I had to be aware of when we spoke about it. I remember going to my son’s preschool orientation and as my husband and I were sitting there we received a google alert with my name and it stated “Dr. Jenelle Kim and the world of Cannabis.” I remember quietly showing it to Craig and we both laughed knowing that we were taking quite a jump and acknowledging that this was certainly not the “norm.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My father and my greatest mentor. He was my everything. He was a man of deep compassion, wisdom, and perspective. Above anything he taught me that the most important thing in life is to be a good person and then everything will unfold as it should.
He was certainly strict, I was raised with many traditions, duty, and respect for my elders and for my lineage. However, he always allowed me to find my own path. Just before I decided to study Eastern Medicine and share our lineages’ formulas with the world he asked me one simple question, “do you want to be special and achieve something in this life? To make this world better?” I, of course, answered, “yes.” To which he responded, “then never be afraid to be different and when everyone else is sleeping you keep moving.” I have never stopped.
I lost my father at 33. He has never stopped teaching me though. The lessons he taught me while he was physically here have actually reached me even deeper than they ever did while he was on this earth. I now have to stand solely on my own two feet, moving through experiences and obstacles and having to be very in tune and connected to myself and to the universe. By being this way, I am able to hear his voice in my mind’s eye guide me along my path.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are constantly working on new and exciting projects from skincare to body care formulations, dietary supplements, and muscle and joint health formulas. At the moment, we are working with some truly incredible and very renowned people and companies to bring CBD and herbal medicine into the mainstream world. Right now we are in a spectacular moment in time where I clearly see the minds of so many expanding and wanting to integrate the brilliant medical systems of both the east and west. This has always been my wish, as it is my belief that the best doctor/practitioner will always utilize whatever possible to make sure that their patient is truly taken care of to the best of our ability. I see our world heading to a state where people are truly educated and aware of their minds and bodies, and are therefore able to know what is good for them. Nothing is more empowering than this, because nothing is more important than our health. We only have one mind and body in this life, we do not have spare lives
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?
1) Do not be afraid to do something different: When we started formulating natural products we were ahead of our time. When we started manufacturing herbal products we were ahead of our time, and when we started developing CBD products in 2012 we were ahead of our time. With being at the forefront of industries in their infancy there were a lot of challenges in terms of consumer perception and education. However, knowing that we were on the right path sustained us, and once these industries caught up we were established and reputable.
2) “Know when to hold them & know when to fold them: In life I find that it is so important to be fluid even in tough situations. Instead of being like a stiff board that is hard, taut and inflexible, be like that of bamboo – strong but flexible so as not to break…with knowledge, experience and wisdom that softly moves with the rhythm of the Tao – the Universe.
3) Do not be afraid to be a strong woman: I am petite but I have a strong personality and much conviction and passion for what I wish to bring to this world. I have learned that while it is necessary to balance with the situations I am in and the people around me, I do not have to mute my strength.
You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 nonintuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
For those individuals looking to start a CBD/Cannabis Business in the health, wellness & beauty space:
- Know where to start when looking to formulate/manufacture/scale-up production
- Understand how to select the right manufacturer for your product
- Understand the manufacturing flow—including timelines and costs—from the sample development phase through the product shipping phase
- Understand the importance of proper licenses and registrations on the manufacturing side and how that can positive or negative impact to your brand
- How to collaborate with your manufacturing partner to get the product you want and accentuate your unique marketing position
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
- It has opened people’s eyes to the strength of herbal medicine in a way that I have not seen anything else do in the last 20 years.
- The cannabis industry stands strong for women empowerment.
- The cannabis industry has and continues to have the ability to produce numerous jobs and boost the economy as a whole.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- Improper manufacturing and unproven claims – working with labs that do not follow proper cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Guidelines) and/or are not registered properly with state health authorities and the FDA (when producing dietary supplements).
Solution: Make sure to manufacture with labs that do follow proper guidelines and licensing.
- Old stigmas, particularly in understanding the vast difference between CBD and THC.
- Testing needs to catch up to the more complex formulations being produced. While I know that this is not an easy task, it is vital to have testing that reflects the formula properly.
Solution: Methodologies continue to advance in such a way that proper testing is able to be done correctly on more complex formulations (formulas that go beyond a simple CBD and MCT formulation, for example).
What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?
It is vital to remember that hemp is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese Medicine and dates back 4000 years. Beginning thousands of year ago, the healing properties of hemp were used to help balance a variety of conditions – from calming the mind and body, balancing digestive disorders, improving skin and hair health, etc. Hemp as an herb to improve one’s condition is much different and in no way in the same arena as marijuana and its purpose to alter the mind.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Where there is a will there is a way.” If I did not follow this, none of my wishes of bringing good to the world, continuing my lineage of medicine, and taking care of my loved ones could be achieved. If I can visualize it, I can get to the goal. I apply this practice constantly no matter the size of my goal.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Work tirelessly but be productive and have faith in the universe (regardless of what religion or belief system you follow). There is only so much in our control.
I truly believe that if you put your heart and mind into what you wish to achieve, always be a good person and stay on a path of goodness you can accomplish anything. Always be compassionate to others. Regardless of our differences we are all human; so instead of focusing on the differences, focus on the similarities – on what brings us all together as one humankind. There is nothing more powerful than connectedness from a place of good.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!